Elizabeth Torres Interview
Elizabeth Torres – Author of “Because the Flame is Alive”, is perhaps our most unusual interviewee to date – after all, how do you go about introducing a remarkable young lady who describes herself as Poet, Painter and Motivational Speaker? And all at only aged 20!
Interview with Elizabeth Torres – Author of “Because the Flame is Alive”
Elizabeth is perhaps our most unusual interviewee to date – to quote Elizabeth “Journalists would often asked me, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I would look at them with defiant eyes and say: I already am. To me, age
was never an obstacle.”
Elizabeth has made special emphasis in sharing her message with high school and college students to motivate the search of inner talents, creating levels of higher self-esteem and introducing a vision of a better world where individual talents play an important role towards becoming successful in life.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I have been very impressed with: http://elizabethtorres.net
First off – can we have a little background information – Where you live? How old you are? What motivates you? Inspires you?
I’m 20 years old, born on Dec 25th, 1987, in Bogota, Colombia. I live in Roselle Park, New Jersey. My motivation has always been this intense desire of proving the world that children and young people have something to say… that we have talents and dreams and opinions, and that we can make a difference.
My family inspires me. I started my career at a very young age, and they were always there for me. My parents would save my drawings and make folders for my poetry, which allowed me to create a good collection that later turned into books. They would take me and my brother to concerts, poetry recitals,scientific and artistic presentations and basically wherever creativity and positive ideas were being expressed. Thanks to this, as I grew up I was able to develop my own identity and define my message. I admire them for believing in me, even when I wasn’t capable of understanding the magnitude of my dream. At 10, I published my book “Questions without Answer” which was a best seller in Colombia. It received the “best book of poetry of the year” award. Lots of interviews came, conferences, trips… we were invited to the US by Univision channel, but more and more interviews came as people started finding out that I was here, and then more conferences…more and more people kept contacting me and inviting me to community events, theaters, schools, universities and companies everywhere, and to date, I continue travelling to different cities and countries without ever stopping.
Our Main Questions:
1) Your website says: Elizabeth Torres – Poet, Painter, Motivational Speaker. That’s an interesting combination of skills – may I ask, are you more one that the other – or do you consider you are all three equally (E.G. More Poet than Painter?)
I always say that painting is like writing a poem directly for your heart, with only colors and feelings…. a poem is the most colorful painting, each word is a different shade of emotions and life, brushes and pencils are without doubt my favorite instruments. I don’t remember which one started first, but I know they are integral in my life. Motivational speaking came almost automatically, because those who were reading my poems and looking at my work wanted to know more and felt motivated to make something valuable of each of their days. My latest book, Because the Flame is Alive, is a collection of my latest poems and the narration of my experiences with the public since I was a little girl, and how I arrived to the understanding that my life could be used as an example to inspire others.
2) I read on your website that your artistic side started to bloom, age 6, publishing poetry in books and audio recordings. This is amazing, tell me, how did it feel to be so young, accomplishing things that many adults only dream of? Do you consider you had a “normal” childhood, or what is Normal to you?
Journalists would often ask me, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I would look at them with defiant eyes and say: I already am. To me, age was never an obstacle. Yes, hundreds of doors closed on my face because they couldn’t publish or exhibit the work of a kid, but that only forced me to stay focused and to open up doors for the talented kids behind me, those who were following my lead or going through my same struggle. I would wake up really early just to write a few poems and used the free time of vacations and weekends to create new paintings. Suddenly, books and audio recordings were being created, asking for time and space, so they could open their wings and have their own life. It was impossible to let them in a corner.
I’ve been blessed with the company of my younger brother, Jaider, who always made sure that before and after any presentation I laughed and played games like a regular kid. My childhood was unique, but extremely amazing. I even got to go on tour giving speeches with a famous writer whose books we had read in school!
“Normal” to me meant finding the balance between the little girl that was just stepping out to see the world and the poet and painter in the same shoes, that wanted to conquer it already and needed to get to work.
3) You are a Motivational Speaker – many motivational speakers have a core message, that they have developed as a result of their life experiences. What do you consider your main Theme? You are young, you are female – how does this impact you in your motivational speaker style?
My core message and motto is basically: Keep the flame alive. Because to me, that goal that we have in our mind, that dream that makes our heart beat faster…it needs attention, dedication, so that it can grow and light our path. Each and every day, we need to take a little step to keep it radiant, we need to nurture the talents that define our field of action, because these are the sparks that transform us into successful people. I also focus a lot in pointing out the importance of taking the positions and standing in the places that belong to us, not only for ourselves but for everyone around us. That way, we find ourselves with the capability of helping those who are still in the pursuit. We become leaders. We become keepers of the flame of love, of hope, of liberty.
Starting young was great because I’ve seen results while others are just getting started. Since I’m young, I get along quite well with young people; when I travel to colleges and high schools to speak, they don’t take my message as a sermon, they accept me as one of their own kind, and see me as proof that they can do it too. However, its been surprising to see that adults also feel motivated with my message… For example, an engineer that always wanted to become a writer, heard my message in Miami, read my books… and decided it was time to chase his true dream.
4) You are originally from Colombia, do you return to Colombia often? How has originally coming from Columbia impacted you in your life in the USA?
Being Colombian and living in the United States has allowed me to belong to two different worlds, and to use this to my advantage. In the US, people are always rushing, wanting to get things done now. In Colombia, takes more time building, loving and developing ideas. But you need to do a little bit of both worlds to get good results in everything you do. Passion, discipline, as well as immediate action.
I grew up in the capital, Bogotá? surrounded by artists, books, cafes, everything very similar to Manhattan. Both of my parents are lawyers, so I also got to learn a lot from their experience. But during the weekends I would stay in a farm we owned, and camp and have bonfires with my cousins, drinking delicious coffee early in the morning and feeling full of inspiration for new poems. Now that I am here I feel the need to represent that positive side of Colombia, proudly speaking of its potential, its amazing beauty and of successful people such as Shakira or Nobel prize Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
5) Do you have a favourite Motivational Speaker or Self Help Guru? Is there anyone in particular that you model yourself on?
One of the Motivational Speakers that I admire the most is Og Mandino. His book “The greatest Salesman in the world” was one of my favorites when I was a child. Another Self Help Guru is Napoleon Hill. He organized the concept of positive thinking so that we could understand it and apply it to our lives, and this led to the growth of the country in the 20th century, inspiring a whole generation of motivational speakers.
When we are kids, we often tend to believe that we can be superheroes, and that belief fades away as we grow up. Napoleon Hill once said “When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve”. Which means we were right, we can be heroes, we can save the world if only we decide to do so.
6) What would be the two top pieces of personal (self help) advice that you would give to young people in 2008? Is there any particular advice you might give to someone who wants to run their own business – young entrepreneurs?
We are the generation with the most opportunities to succeed. We have all the technology and ways of communication at our reach… and at the same time, we have a whole new world yet to create! Never before was succeeding so easy! and so necessary! My advice to young entrepreneurs is to get started now. Before, opening your own business required saving or having enough financial income to create your company. Now, in this virtual reality we call the internet, absolutely anyone can do it and see the results in the real world. So, recognize your talents, and use them now!
7) What is the best advice you have ever been given?
It might not be the most poetic advice, but it’s definitely the most needed one: DON’T GIVE UP. Be creative. Always find alternate routes if your path is blocked by obstacles. Every problem is a challenge, it takes you out of your comfort zone and towards events that will force you to grow and evolve….you’ll never know how close you are to success if you don’t dare to face these obstacles and defeat them.
8) Do you have a favourite book? Piece of music?
Favorite books are of course books of poetry and art. Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda, Alfonsina Stormi, Cavafy… and motivational books such as The Alchemist and The Secret, must-haves for young entrepreneurs. When it comes to music, I’m always in the look for new artists. At the moment, am all about Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sarah, and Soko. I’m also a huge lover of Bob Dylan’s lyrics, Jim Morrison’s voice, and Santana’s strings.
9) I read on your website that you will be joining the Extreme Entrepreneur Tour in Nebraska and Wyoming – tell us more about the Extreme Entrepreneur Tour and how did you come to get involved in it?
The EET brings the country’s top young entrepreneurs to colleges and High Schools all over the U.S to share their stories and advice. I was contacted by the organizers who wanted me to join this tour, they told me they had been following my activities for a while, they felt identified with the message in my book, and since I already give conferences in different universities, it was a great match… I feel honored to be a part of it. I’m often travelling to campuses in the US and abroad by myself, and I love it! but this time it’ll be with fellow young entrepreneurs, so I’m sure it’ll be a blast.
10) Additionally you are going to Dublin, Wales and London – is that also as a speaker? Who is your audience there?
I’m currently the Poet in Residence of Kean University, so as part of my education I often join their trips to study abroad, and take this as an opportunity to find inspiration and reinforce connections in the places I’m visiting. In London, I’ll speak to international students and some groups that have contacted me through my website.
11) Your audience? Is it mainly young people or is it all age spans?
For my motivational Speeches, I love talking in campuses and High Schools because at this age, people are making the greatest decisions of their life and therefore more open to the advice I can give them, and ready to take action. However, I also speak to adults in corporate companies, because they are in a position where they can help young talents arrive to their goals…and interpret my message in a more profound way. With poetry recitals and exhibits, however, my audience varies, and it’s awesome to see how your voice can touch people of all age spans, religions, and backgrounds.
12) I watched a video of you on CNN – in the Young People Who Rock section. Can you tell us how that came about – and in particular anything you learned about it?
The interview for “Young People who Rock” with Nicole Lapin was done during my tour in Miami last August, while I was launching my new book “Because the Flame is Alive”. It also aired on Headline News that day, and is still available on their blog. It was a significant moment for me because it showed me that my message was well known around the US. It was followed by tons of e-mails by people who admired my work and felt inspired by my story.
13) How do you promote yourself? Your message? Do you have any tips for other young people who wish to take a similar path?
Take the challenges life puts in front of you. Generally, a small meeting or interview leads to a conference and vice versa. In my book, I say that an invisible chain begins to form, but for this, you have to stand where opportunities can find you. Having a website has been like having a portfolio available for anyone in the world to see. In addition to this, I’m always sending out Press Releases, giving interviews for radio and TV shows and for newspapers. When it comes to promotion, I think the main tip would be: Don’t sit and wait. Always move forward, every second counts. Also, don’t be discouraged if at the beginning you don’t receive any replies from the media or the public. Trust me, they’re watching, you just gotta keep trying.
14) Perhaps an “odd question” considering your remarkable success, but if you were to start over again, is there any tips / advice / things you would do differently, knowing what you know now?
Letting others know about my small achievements…success does not happen in one day. Tips: Ask for advice… its always important to keep in touch with those who have helped you or offered to help you but didn’t know how at the moment. Create a team of support for the times when you’re feeling a little low on fuel and need motivation. I always had my family to guide me, but if I were to start again, I would have focused a bit more in that area, and in believing in myself… sometimes we are our most stubborn judges.
15) Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?
Of course I do! To me, the only way to achieve a dream is by having short term and long term goals. At the moment, I’m focused on the motivational conferences, and on promoting my new book in the US and abroad. I already have scheduled several appearances in other countries. I plan on travelling all over Europe and the Americas in the following years. I’m also working on graduating soon. Since am a busy-bee, I’m already working on another book, (or books, actually)…and always looking for ways to get my message across to a bigger audience. For this reason, I’m often working in several projects at a time.
Thank you Elizabeth